Charles Lane; a liberal for whom I have the utmost respect. This column, accurately explaining what happened in Wisconsin - and why it was wonderful - is but one reason Lane is a columnist with integrity.
Walker’s critics were right about one thing: democracy was at issue in this struggle. What they got wrong is which side was actually upholding democratic values.
Collective bargaining is appropriate in the private sector, where the market acts as a check on unsustainable pay and benefits.
But in the public sector, where government faces no competition, and can levy taxes to pay for labor contracts, collective bargaining is inherently undemocratic.
Union money and manpower confer political clout, which unions use to, in effect, elect their own bosses. Behind closed doors, they then decide how much the public will have to pay for education, transportation, and other services. They call it “collective bargaining,” but the unions are represented on both sides of the table.
Walker’s reforms ended that. Now, elected officials across the state can actually set work rules and pay rates with their constituents’ interests as the clear top priority.
In short, government in Wisconsin is now not only sounder fiscally than it was pre-Walker, but also more accountable and transparent. Politicians can use resources for parks, libraries, schools and roads instead of perks for politically connected unions.
The progressives who are mourning Walker’s win should be celebrating instead.